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Releases - DVD - Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Cut)


Release Information:
Studio: Warner Studios
Original Release Date: December 12, 2000
Run Time: 76 minutes
Production Company: Warner Studios
Package Type: Snap Case
English, French

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Sound Quality:
English (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround)
Commentary (Stereo)

Special Features
-Commentary by the Filmmakers
-Behind-the-Scenes Documentary
-Deleted Scenes
-Animation Tests
-Music Video Crash by Mephisto Odyssey feat. Static X
-Animated Character Bios
-Interactive Menus
-Production Notes
-Scene Access
-Subtitles: English & Francais

With the Batman Beyond animated series scorching up the airwaves, Warner Home Video sought to cash in by commissioning a direct to video feature based on the show. What they got was something they could have never predicted. Considered second only to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker stars the futuristic Dark Knight facing off against the Clown Prince of Crime in this revealing, harrowing story.

While the story can be found elsewhere on this site, the story originally broken by myself, I'll provide a quick backdrop on how this release came to be. The version featured on this DVD release is the infamous 'edited' version of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

Upon seeing the completed film, executives felt the content and tone was too dark and extreme for their target audience. As a result, filmmakers Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Curt Geda, and Glen Murakami were forced to extract almost five minutes of footage from the print, to lessen the impact. The content was essentially still the same, but the execution was considerably dulled. This DVD contains the dulled, edited version.

For information on the unedited DVD version, click here. The comparison between the cut and uncut version of this movie can be viewed here.

Now what about the actual movie? Even in edited form, the movie is amazing. The voice acting is top notch, the animation is beautiful, and the story is amazing. To say anymore would really ruin the entire experience, but this is a must-see movie on a must-see DVD.

And the audio and video transfer? Absolutely flawless. The full frame transfer is completely free of any dust and scratches, and compression is essentially non-existent. The colors jump against the dark, fully digitally painted backgrounds, and the detail is brilliant. The Dolby 5.1 Surround makes the action and excellent score sound all the more vivid and intense.

The extras for this DVD set is actually pretty impressive for Warner Home Video. Usually we're saddled with terrible "games," brainless extras, and horrible production values. But here? We have a solid release, probably the best Animated DC DVD release outside of the box sets. The extras include Commentary by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Curt Geda, and Glen Murakami, Animatics, a Making Of Featurette, Character Bios, Deleted Scenes (In Animatic Form), Bat Trivia, the Mephisto Odyssey Featuring Static X "Crash" music video, and some trailers.

The highlight of the release is the commentary. This is a commentary I have actually listened to on many occasions, multiple times. The four participants keep it going with Bruce Timm leading the charge. There are a few brief moments of silence, but the wealth of candid conversation and information is just mindblowing.

Due to the editing fiasco, Warner Home Video commissioned Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Curt Geda, and Glen Murakami to re-record a second commentary. The original commentary makes reference to a lot of the sequences that would eventually be cut, which would cause confusion for those unknowing the edits made, especially pointing out scenes no longer in the movie! This second commentary, more subdued and filled with tension, touches upon many of the same topics as the unedited DVD commentary, but with noticeable changes.

The other extras, while pretty standard, are excellent for this release. The deleted scenes, including the infamous 'Arkham Asylum" scene, are in animatic form with voice performances. They're pretty interesting, though it's understood why they were cut. The rest of the extras are pretty entertaining and provide a nice look into the process into making and promoting this feature.

Overall, I highly recommend this film. This movie ties Batman: Mask of the Phantasm as the best interpretation of the iconic hero. While the impact is lessened, this edited version is safe for all ages and may be worth tracking down for completist Bat-fans or those interested in this whole mess. Very few American animated series have achieved the quality and excitement Warner Brothers has created with the Batman franchise, and this is just another example of how excellent this animated franchise has become (despite executive tinkering).

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